By Lee Sibley 2 years ago
Is a classic Porsche a good daily driver?
9WERKS reveals some simple upgrades to make your classic Porsche more comfortable, more dependable and better to drive – more often!
‘Life is too short to drive boring cars.’ It’s one of those slogans you see emblazoned on T-shirts and bumper stickers. Yet in uncertain times, when travel is restricted and driving often feels like a privilege, it rings truer than ever.
Helpfully, with many of us now working from home or going into the office a couple of times per week, daily-driving a classic car looks increasingly feasible. Rest assured, Porsches rise to the challenge better than most contemporary rivals, too. Can you really imagine driving an old Alfa Romeo or TVR every day?
So what do we mean by 'classic'? In a Porsche context, let’s say any air-cooled 911, along with the four-cylinder 912, mid-engined 914 and the transaxle cars: 924, 944, 928 and 968. We don’t expect anyone to commute year-round in their 356 Speedster or ’72 911S, but most of these vehicles are comfortable, reliable and affordable enough for daily duties.
Maintaining an older car could cost more and you’ll have to sacrifice a few mod-cons. On the plus side, you can tackle many repair jobs yourself, depreciation won’t be a worry and every journey will feel like an event. Because one thing is certain: driving a classic Porsche is never boring.
Produced with help from Heritage Parts Centre, this guide offers tips on how to make your Porsche a better daily driver. From preventing leaks to improving driver feedback, these simple upgrades can make a big difference.
Make your classic Porsche more comfortable
If you plan to drive your Porsche regularly, it needs to be comfortable. The air-cooled 911 isn’t renowned for great heating – blame the lack of hot water in the engine, which led engineers to direct air over the exhaust manifold – so a new heater and blower may be a sound investment.
Equally, while we love the noise of a flat-six (or indeed the 944’s feisty four-pot), you might want extra sound deadening insulation for regular motorway trips – particularly if your Porsche has been stripped-out for track use in the past.
Few classic Porsches came with air-con, particularly for the UK market, and plumbing in an aftermarket system will cost several thousand pounds. Alternatively, you can enjoy fresh air, and a little luxury, with electric window switches instead.
Lastly, one very cool upgrade is the retro-look PCCM head unit from Porsche Classic, which fits into the existing DIN stereo slot and offers navigation, DAB radio and Apple CarPlay. It’s a real touch of modernity for almost any Porsche built before 1998.
Make your classic Porsche more reliable
Porsches are designed to be driven, and robust German engineering is key to their appeal. That said, any performance car needs regular oil changes to keep it running smoothly. You may also need to modify your Porsche to accept modern, ethanol-rich fuel; this guide to E10 petrol and classic cars explains more.
Handbrakes are a weak point on older vehicles, making hill starts difficult and occasionally leading to MOT failure. Save yourself the embarrassment with a selection of genuine Porsche handbrake cables – seen here for the 944.
Speaking of embarrassment, nothing is more mortifying than running out of fuel. It will bring your journey to a sputtering halt, and won’t do your engine any good either. If your fuel gauge can’t be trusted, or simply doesn’t work, a replacement fuel gauge sender unit should cure the problem.
Make your classic Porsche better to drive
All the hundreds of ways to modify your Porsche, making it handle better and go faster, can’t possibly be covered here. Suffice to say that modern components such as upgraded brakes and suspension can revitalise any classic car, so long as you're prepared to sacrifice a little originality.
One way to make your Porsche more rewarding in daily use is to renew the driver contact points. This might mean a new RS-style steering wheel or, if you own a G Model 911 (1973-1989), sharpening up the steering itself with a Turbo tie rod upgrade kit. You’ll be surprised how much slack sets in over the years.
Likewise, this pedal bushing kit for the 911, which includes all the polymer bushes needed to rebuild the pedal box, comes highly recommended from us. No excuse for not mastering that heel-and-toe technique now…
Upgrade the look of your classic Porsche
Admit it, part of the feelgood factor with classic cars derives from how they look, and the reactions they elicit from other road users. Backdating your Porsche to make it look even more ‘classic’ only heightens that appeal.
In truth, only the 911 is generally eligible for backdating. The 914 and transaxle cars weren’t in production long enough for their styling to evolve much. The process essentially means making a G-model or 964 look like a 1969-1973 car, with popular additions including an earlier style longer bonnet or an RSR-style bonnet with a central fuel filler. The latter is an easy way to achieve the 'Singer look' on a budget.
There are other ways to makeover your 911, of course, including the 930 Turbo look, with wider wheelarches and a whale tail or tea tray rear wing. Have fun and let us see your projects when they are finished!
Make your classic Porsche more weatherproof
The British winter can play havoc with classic cars, leaving soggy carpets, musty odours and rust – the worst villain of all – in its destructive wake. Keeping water out should be your main priority.
Heritage Parts’ sunroof delete panel has proved popular with enthusiasts building track-focused or racing Porsche 911s. However, as a way to remove a leaky or potentially problematic sunroof for good, it’s worth considering for all owners.
Replacing old and perished rubber seals around the doors and glass is a must. Cutting and applying weatherproof membrane sheet behind the interior door panels provides an extra layer of protection, too. It’s easy and very cost-effective.
For 993 owners, stinky smells can be banished with a pair of replacement pollen filters. Drive an older Porsche? You may have to rely on a Magic Tree… either way, with even a couple of these choice mods, we absolutely believe a classic Porsche can be driven daily!
Article written by Tim Pitt
Article written by Tim Pitt